English 1020 PX1
June 12, 2011
A fabric of deceit
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a sad tale about a family and its struggles to live up to the father's perception of success. The play features three main characters: Willy the father, and his two sons Biff and Happy. The play has a political undercurrent that is cynical of the American economic system and the burden of expectations it places on society. Miller describes a post-World War II family in suburban Brooklyn struggling to gain its footing at a time when capitalism is taking off in America. Willy Loman is anxious to make a name for himself in this new world no matter the cost. By comparing and contrasting the different personality traits of Willy, Biff, and Happy, one comes to the conclusion that Death of a Salesman demonstrates the consequences a family endures when the father cracks under the weight of unattainable success, and how his failures and deceit can ruin the lives of those he loves the most.
Willy is an ambitious salesman, who, while being moderately successful in his younger days, has fallen on hard times. The caveat to Willy's success is that it is presented from his own perspective, and Willy is not someone who has a firm grip on reality. Early on, after his oldest son Biff came home from an extended absence, Willy falls into a memory of the past when his sons are young. He speaks out loud, giving instructions how to wash and polish the car, to an image of his sons when they were young. Another example of Willy's questionable mental state occurs while having a conversation with his wife Linda about a recent sales trip. Willy states “... I'll go to Hartford. I'm very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me.” (1791). Willy contradicts himself by claiming to be very well liked and then makes the statement that people do not take to him. Willy uses bluster and self-delusion to convince himself...